The great Clin­ton email scan­dal that wasn’t

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPIN­ION - Bill Press is syn­di­cated by Tri­bune Me­dia Ser­vices. Read­ers may write to him via email at bill@bill­press.com. Bill Press

Have you heard? With the help of Wik­iLeaks, Don­ald Trump has fi­nally found his se­cret weapon: a trove of emails writ­ten to and from Clin­ton Cam­paign Chair John Podesta, which are so ex­plo­sive they will dom­i­nate the head­lines, prove how cor­rupt Hil­lary Clin­ton re­ally is, turn the Amer­i­can peo­ple against her and be the de­cid­ing fac­tor in this elec­tion.

Have you heard? That may have been Don­ald Trump’s dream, but it’s bombed big­time. Yes, the emails — some 40,000 of them — have been drip­ping out, a cou­ple thou­sand a day for the last two weeks. There are only two prob­lems. One, there are so many of them that no­body has time to read them all, ex­cept low-level re­porters who are paid to do so. Two, they are mon­u­men­tally bor­ing.

In­deed, of the tens of thou­sands of Podesta emails re­leased so far, it could be said: Never has so much ink been spilled to say so lit­tle. Read­ers who take the time to plow through them will dis­cover such breath­tak­ing rev­e­la­tions as: There’s fric­tion be­tween old-time Clin­ton aides and new kids on the block. Shock­ing! Staffers dis­agree on how close Clin­ton should get to Pres­i­dent Obama or whether she should apol­o­gize for us­ing a pri­vate email server. Shock­ing! Some cam­paign ad­vis­ers even ex­press dis­ap­point­ment in the can­di­date her­self. Shock­ing!

In sum, for po­lit­i­cal junkies, Podesta’s emails pro­vide a fas­ci­nat­ing peek into the in­ner work­ings of any pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, but lit­tle more. There is no smok­ing gun.

The many is­sues Clin­ton cam­paign aides are shown strug­gling with in­clude how to han­dle her State Depart­ment emails, how to jug­gle sup­port or op­po­si­tion to TPP and how to deal with the sur­pris­ing suc­cess of Bernie San­ders. On TPP, the de­bate shifted widely from all-out op­po­si­tion, in or­der to ap­pease la­bor unions, to qual­i­fied sup­port, as a show of sol­i­dar­ity with Pres­i­dent Obama. So much so that cam­paign man­ager Robby Mook com­plained to Podesta: “I can’t re­call where we landed ex­actly on trade.” Clin­ton ended up op­pos­ing TPP and vows to con­tinue do­ing so as pres­i­dent.

After Sen. San­ders, I-Vt., whom Clin­ton aides first dis­missed as a left-wing kook from Ver­mont, crushed Clin­ton in New Hamp­shire, wor­ried Clin­ton staffers floated ideas on how to stop him: call him a com­mu­nist; ex­pose him as a phony Demo­crat; de­ride his lack­lus­ter record in the Se­nate. All of which they did, but — as San­ders him­self ad­mits — if you searched his cam­paign’s emails, you’d find lots of ideas on how to go after Hil­lary Clin­ton, too. The ob­jec­tive of both camps was to win.

Emails sent by Clin­ton as Sec­re­tary of State Clin­ton present a stick­ier chal­lenge. In March 2015, Pres­i­dent Obama told CBS’s Bill Plante that he learned of her use of a pri­vate email server the same time ev­ery­body else did, from news re­ports. Oops! “We need to clean this up,” top aide Ch­eryl Mills warned Podesta, “he has emails from her; they do not say state.gov.” The White House was forced to ex­plain that Obama didn’t re­al­ize he was re­spond­ing through a pri­vate server.

Most dam­ag­ing of all are emails where Clin­ton cam­paign staffers re­act with alarm about con­tin­u­ing ef­forts by Bill and Hil­lary Clin­ton to raise cash from for­eign coun­tries for the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, even while she was be­gin­ning her cam­paign for pres­i­dent. She even planned, and later dropped, a visit to Morocco, which had pledged $12 mil­lion to the foun­da­tion — a case of po­lit­i­cal insanity that stunned those clos­est to her. Top aide Huma Abe­din cried out: “She cre­ated this mess, and she knows it.”

Again, over­all, the emails make for fas­ci­nat­ing po­lit­i­cal read­ing, but con­tain no new block­buster in­for­ma­tion. What is most shock­ing, and what gets lost in most of the me­dia cov­er­age, is not what’s in the emails, but who’s be­hind them. Ac­cord­ing to 17 U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies, Podesta’s email ac­count was hacked by an or­ga­ni­za­tion called “Fancy Bears,” which is tied di­rectly to the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment.

The ev­i­dence is clear. Rus­sia is com­mit­ting es­pi­onage by ac­tively try­ing to in­fil­trate and in­flu­ence the out­come of our pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. And why are they only hacking emails at the DNC or the Clin­ton cam­paign? Isn’t it ob­vi­ous? Be­cause Vladimir Putin’s try­ing to help his friend Don­ald Trump.

That bla­tant for­eign un­der­min­ing of our demo­cratic process should out­rage ev­ery Amer­i­can, Repub­li­can and Demo­crat. And that should be the head­line on ev­ery story about the Clin­ton emails: “RUS­SIA TRIES TO RIG ELEC­TION FOR DON­ALD TRUMP.”

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